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London is a world-class destination for Champagne lovers, offering an unrivalled medley of fizz-focused bars, bubbling bistros and fine-dining Champagne oases. There’s a list out there to satisfy every palate, from the best boutique grower wines to the grandest of grandes marques, often featuring a healthy dosage of both under the same roof, with ample opportunities to sample by the glass and bottle, or indulge in the decadent luxury of larger formats to seal an occasion. It all adds up to a fantastic, well-heeled, fizz-fuelled scene.
Smooth operator Alex Kratena presides over this sublime Champagne and cocktail oasis, which delivers a calm dose of perfectly understated glamour. As you’d expect from a multiple award-winning drinks list, Champagne is taken seriously here, with a host of non-vintage wines joined by their illustrious luxury cuvées and suitably aged vintages. Sup on Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle NV, 1999 Gosset Grand Millésime, 1996 Dom Ruinart, 1996 Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque, 1995 Krug Brut Vintage, plus wines such as 1989 Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé and 1990 Cristal in magnum.
The art-deco decadence of the Beaufort Bar provides an opulent counterpoint to the Savoy’s more famous American Bar and also sees the focus shift from cocktails to Champagne. Fine fizzes such as Louis Roederer and Ruinart find their way into cocktails, but the burnished gold-and-black decor somehow works up a thirst for straight Champagne, delivered in style from a list that hosts celebrated growers such as Jacques Selosse and Egly-Ouriet alongside vintage prestige cuvées including 1998 Dom Pérignon Brut Oenothèque and 2000 Bollinger Vielles Vignes Françaises, plus, for the thirsty, an impressive range of magnums and jeroboams, crowned by a methuselah of 2000 Louis Roederer Cristal.
A fantastic and wholly fun concept taking the pomposity out of ‘pop’ by dishing up a moreish marriage of gourmet hotdogs and grower Champagnes. The fizzes here may be listed under playful headings such as ‘A Lick of Chalk and Stones’, ‘Flowers and Fields’ and ‘Toasty and Nutty Delights’, but this Fitzrovia eatery offers a serious collection of great wines from smaller producers. Look for Christophe Mignon, Ulysse Collin, Olivier Horiot, Chartogne-Taillet and the ever-satisfying Larmandier-Bernier, plus many other gems besides.
What’s not to like about this novel concept that revolves around selling two of life’s finest products? Sit on artfully mismatched furniture in this airy Covent Garden bistro and graze from the selection of cheeses and charcuterie while dipping into a 25-strong list that champions fine grower Champagnes – or go for the ultimate Gallic takeaway, complete with expert advice on matching the myriad varieties of cheese with appropriate styles of chalk-grown Champagne.
Perrier-Jouët is the inspiration behind this bar, tastefully designed to satisfy a rapacious thirst for any serious oenophile and perfect for those dropping in after a hard day’s retail therapy (Champagne breakfasts are a speciality here, too). The decor is a delight, echoing the iconic 1902 Belle Epoque bottle design by Emile Gallé, and the visual equivalent of immersing yourself in a tastefully wrought oasis flowing with Perrier-Jouët. Seasonal cocktails are on offer, but it seems impolite not to drink Belle Epoque Champagne here.
This Soho landmark has been peddling cool French elegance and classic Champagne to cultured bohemians since the days of Oscar Wilde, who was one of many society regulars. The 100-strong Champagne list remains one of the finest in London, with well-sourced grower wines, a great by-the-glass selection, including the likes of Billecart-Salmon Brut, Ruinart Blanc de Blancs and Drappier Brut Nature, plus strong ranges of wines from many leading houses – Moët & Chandon, Bollinger, Pommery, Gosset, Laurent-Perrier, Pol Roger, Krug and Dom Pérignon to name but a few.
An unbeatable venue if you like your Champagne to come with a stunning central-London view, at its best at Champagne o’clock as the sun goes down and the lights flicker on across the glittering sprawl of London. Not a huge list, but one that drinks very well, with some real treats such as NV Billecart-Salmon Rosé and 2002 Pol Roger in half-bottle, goodies such as the beautiful, creamily textured 2004 Thiénot Blanc de Blancs Cuvée Stanislas among the vintage wines, and luxury cuvées including 1995 Bollinger RD, along with magnums such as Laurent-Perrier Rosé NV adding to the attraction.
The heady combination of St Pancras station’s magnificent Victorian architecture and Europe’s longest Champagne bar more than revives the old-world glamour of rail travel. The Champagne list is equally impressive, offering the largest collection of grande-marque houses in the UK, with an equally tempting choice by the glass. Begin your journey with a tutored tasting or private dinner in the Besserat de Bellefon Champagne Tasting Lounge, or idle away the wait with glasses of wines such as Canard-Duchêne Cuvée Léonie Brut NV, Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut NV or 2002 Lanson Gold Label.
Sommelier and co-owner Xavier Rousset has created one of the most mouth-watering Champagne lists in London to complement Icelandic chef Agnar Sverrisson’s superb Scandinavian-influenced food. The 100-strong selection features the very best grandes marques and grower Champagnes: the likes of Pommery Summertime Blanc de Blancs Brut and Wintertime Blanc de Noirs sit cheek by jowl with grower Jérôme Prévost’s 100% Pinot Meunier La Closerie ‘Les Béguines’ Extra-Brut, while choices such as Vouette et Sorbée Fidèle Extra Brut NV by the glass, and magnums including 1990 Veuve Clicquot La Grand Dame Brut top and tail this fine selection.
Voltaire himself would doubtless have approved of the transformation of this one-time prison into a Champagne and cigar bar, mirroring his own path to fame from time spent behind bars to many more hours in front of them. Champagne Pommery rules the roost here, with an incredible selection of styles, formats and older vintages from this versatile house, plus a seductive cocktail list that makes inventive use of the myriad qualities of these diverse wines.
This feature was published in the summer 2013 issue of Square Meal Lifestyle.